Injustice has to do with the ways that people harm other people. Political violence often occurs as a means to enforce or overthrow an unjust political regime. People use illegitimate force to harm, injure, abuse, or constrain members of other groups in a struggle over the morality of political institu¬tions and behavior in a society. Injustice and the political violence it gener¬ates can have devastating and disastrous consequences in a society. People and property can be destroyed, and body and mind can be injured. Both the perpetrators of and sufferers from injustice and political violence are dehu¬manized.
Many South Africans condoned the use of political violence in the past. They either used violence themselves, or condoned violence by people acting for their cause, or in their interest. Many people became accustomed to an inevitable loss of life. They forgot that such loss of life was the result of choices that people had made. Those choices could also have been made dif¬ferently, to avoid harm and destruction.
Once you say that violence is the result of a choice, then you admit that violence does not come naturally to people. If people witness other people using violence to resolve conflict, or if they learn attitudes which legitimize violence, they will also tend to use violence (Hoffmann and McKendrick, 1990, pp. 26-31). In this way one generation transmits its violent ways to the next.
This book demonstrates the devastating consequences of injustice and political violence on all human beings involved, whether as perpetrators, supporters, resisters, or victims. I present a picture of the kinds of harm apartheid did to black and white people. The effects of political violence on individuals, groups, and politics are discussed. In this book I want to show how injustice led to political violence in South Africa. Three periods in the history of the apartheid society, demarcated by institutional adaptations or significant policy changes are discussed. I sketch the multiple injustices found in each period and indicate the kinds of political violence generated. Active and passive injustice, as well as active and reactive political violence are pointed out.
South Africa’s past is full of injustice. The recent democratic transition liberated all South Africans from the harms and restrictions of past injustice. To understand the transformation from injustice to justice in South Africa, I present the history of the evolving conflict engendered by the policies of apartheid. In Chapter One, I have defined the nature of injustice and political violence. Then in Chapters Two, Three, and Four, I examine the ugly faces of injustice in the apartheid society through its development. Difficult questions arise. How did the injustice and violence of the apartheid society damage the humanity of its people? How did people have to change their personal values to become democrats? Answers come from recent debates in political phi¬losophy about matters of justice and choices recently made by South Africans about similar matters.
What is the secret of the political miracle achieved in South Africa? In my book I argue that the secret is a comprehensive change in the con¬ception of justice guiding the political institutions of South Africa. Injustice in apartheid South Africa led to conflict and dehumanization, whereas the justice of the new South Africa restored humanity and established lasting peace. Pursuing justice is a moral imperative and has practical value as a cost-efficient way of dealing with conflict.
In Chapter Four, I show how an increased level of violence accompanied determined efforts to establish peace in South Africa. In Chapters Five and Six, I argue that lasting peace is only possible through justice. Implementing the concep¬tion of justice embodied in the new democratic constitution will require in¬tense effort from every citizen in South Africa. The behavior learned as ap¬propriate for dealing with one another in apartheid society is inappropriate in a democracy. All citizens in South Africa will have to re¬shape their personal values and behavior to develop a democratic personality conforming to a human rights culture. This moral reorientation might yet prove to be the most difficult part of South Africa’s transition to democracy.
A Brief Overview: Injustice, Violence, and Peace: The Case of South Africa
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Published by Rodopi in 1997 & still available